Summative and Formative Assessment in the Foreign Language Classroom

Summative and Formative Assessment in the Foreign (World) Language Classroom (French, Spanish)

Summative Assessment: Results are used to make some sort of judgment, such as to determine what grade a student will receive on a classroom assignment or to  determine  progress.  Sometimes referred to as assessment of learning, summative assessments typically documents how much learning has occurred at a point in time.  The purpose is to measure the level of success.

Formative Assessment: Information from formative assessments provide data during the instructional process.  They take place before a summative assessment  Both the teacher and the student use formative assessment results to make decisions about what actions to take to promote further learning. It is an ongoing process that involves far more than testing and measurement of student learning.  It is a means to an end, rather than the end point data that is attained from a summative assessment.

Formative assessment, or Assessment for Learning, can take many different forms in the classroom. It consists of anything teachers do to help students answer three questions (Atkin, Black, & Coffey, 2001):

  • Where am I going?
  • Where am I now?
  • How can I get to where I am going/need to be?

The biggest value of formative assessment is the opportunity to use results to improve real-time teaching and learning .

Atkin, J. M., Black, P., & Coffey, J. (2001). Classroom assessment and the national science standards. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

One response to “Summative and Formative Assessment in the Foreign Language Classroom

  1. Pingback: Planning Towards a Goal in the Foreign Language Classroom | World Language Classroom Resources

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